“The computer(tech) industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion.” - Larry Ellison of Oracle.
Recently, I read a long article in one of the nation’s leading newspaper on 'how bots will shape up the future and how few startups are taking lead in this space'. Considering the attention bots are receiving from thought leaders of tech industry, I fear that this focus and enthusiasm can succeed.
This argument underscores that our perception is shaped by the world around us and 95% of progress in tech industry is directly correlated with perception of people, so in a way it's a never ending loop that results in lack of innovation.
Let’s take some pause, shed our common sense, which creates as much delusion as it helps in business decisions, and take a closer look at everyone’s dearest fad called bots. A lot of things are being mingled mindlessly with the bot revolution, take a look at this point of view to explore if they really mean anything.
Buzz # 1. Big companies such as Microsoft and Facebook have been promoting chat based assistants.
Facebook , Siri , Crotona , Echo - all such big and established platforms will be the biggest gainers from bots revolution, hence much euphoria is generated by them and respective leaders of these companies that own these platforms. There may be vested interest of influencers and companies who are fueling this wildfire.
Buzz # 2. Bots are synonymous with Artificial Intelligence
AI, machine learning and similar technologies have been around for quite some time and everyone believes that these technologies can bring astounding operational efficiencies to business processes and can improve quality of life of people. All the research will continue to happen, bots are just one of the many use cases.
There are few who even relate IBM Watson with bots. DeepQA Project Watson was started sometime during 2005 to mimic the human expertise in field of question-answers to win the game- jeopardy. At that time, bots were very far from reality. However, now Watson has evolved into a self-learning system that uses machine learning to reveal insights from unstructured data. Hence, connecting IBM's investments in watson with chat bots is misleading.
Buzz # 3. Bots are solution for app glut and lack of space in phones
Same problem can occur with bots - excessive supply and heavy concentration of demand on certain platforms will lead to bot glut. Secondly, evolving mobile web can be a solution for lack of memory space. I don't have facebook app in my mobile and now I don't download a lot of apps if they have a good website. I use Mobile chrome's "Add to homescreen" option and I don't feel underprivileged in any way. Chrome also allows to send notifications so I get it. More research should be done in empowering and improving mobile web experiences. In mobile web, users will neither have to download an app, nor they have to face memory problem. App gluts also won't exist in mobile web.
Buzz #4. Bots are inspiring voice based user interfaces
Voice is future of UI and people say bots will be or are reason for this adoption, which is again misrepresented. Voice UI and NLP research, which helps systems understand human language, are already pioneered by likes of Google, Amazon and it has nothing to do with bots. Both fields are developing independently and any interconnection or cross-application will be like a natural integration between different tech stacks. Futurists emphasise that Voice based products will be everywhere in 5-7 years, people will type less , speak more and listen more. However, It should not be understood as a consequence of bots revolution.
Buzz # 5. Everyone is talking about bots
There is very less unpaid media (evidence that few exist is this article) . Media writes about trends that are popular, in majority of cases it only presents what’s in vogue and promoted by either influencers or other magazines. If you believe in bots because of a white paper published by a leading consultancy company, please also look at the history of prediction of market research companies. Consultancy companies also do something very similar to media, they rarely succeed in predicting the next wave. Next big opportunity or market is created by entrepreneurs who are capable of spotting an industry that doesn't have any inklings of existence in present. Think - AirBnB, Hotmail, Paypal & Google.
Bots may gain traction and can become as big industry as SaaS but I would still argue that reason behind such adoption will not be only AI powered superior UI , but also the fact that - "Crowd has no awareness, it only has momentum".
What do you think? Let me know in the comment section Or tweet to me [at] muzzy tree